Hello everyone! Today I am here with another blog tour, and I am quite excited about this one, too, hosted by The WriteReads and about a really interesting book! And, again, since it is a fantasy book I would use this post for Wyrd And Wonder, because celebrating all things fantasy is always an amazing idea!
Title: The Knave of Secrets
Author: Alex Livingston
Expected Publication Date: June 7th (US), June 9th (UK) 2022
A twisty tale of card sharps and con artists, in a world of magic where secrets are traded and gambled like coin. The Lies of Locke Lamora meets Casino Royale.
Never stake more than you can afford to lose.
When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game—the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets—he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.
Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…
This book was an interesting discovery, and even if in the end it wasn’t what I was expecting, I had a good time with it. I was hooked, I was intrigued by the plot and I simply had to know what would happen to all of them. Because things get twisty soon enough, and full of dangers too.
Let’s start with the expectations: I was expecting something similar to Locke Lamora’s books, full of action and deception, and cons inside cons, and without the time to take a full breath. And this was not it.
This book is, to say it in one word, sedate. And I am not really complaining, because sedate does not mean boring, at all. I was invested in the characters and their choices, and their risky bets, the book is captivating, but it has a slower pace (not really slow, but slower than what I was expecting) and another thing that I was expecting and that was missing was the sense of almost blind loyalty in the found family that we have.
Okay, this is a tad hard to explain with sense, but bear with me a moment. Found families are one of my favorite tropes ever, and usually, when we get to have one in the books, we have always a sense of undestroyable and uncompromising loyalty between all the people involved, and we have some deep feelings toward each other. But it wasn’t really the case in this book. We have a found family, and it is a beautiful one because the characters show us what a real family should be, and we have some moving moments in this department, but we have also doubts, we have resentments from time to time, and the feeling that the bond is not unbreakable. And it was good. Really!
Sure, to be honest, I prefer my found family with more unity and fewer doubts, because life can be just so full of doubts and bad things, that a happy island is like a beacon that we all need. And so yeah, I prefer the other kind. But this one was even more real for its “dark” sides. And I think that there is another factor in this more frail found family, and it is one of the best features of the book: the characters are older than usual.
Yes, this was, for me, the best thing in the book. The characters are all grown men and women, and they are approaching the middle age mark if they have not reached it yet, and it was amazing to see a fantasy with older characters that are not your usual beaten-from-life warrior (mind me, I love them, but it was a nice change for once!).
Valen is the brain of the group, and he is a charming character, but to be honest all of the main characters have some charming quality. The only one with whom I had some difficulties was Ten, and it was strange, because usually I am keener on this kind of character, and I really enjoyed that she can think for herself and that she is not afraid to act on her conviction, and yet in this book, she was the one who talked less to me. She was an interesting character, and I didn’t dislike her, but I was expecting to like her more, that’s all.
And then let me spend a few words on the magical system. I really wanted more of it, because it was intriguing and fascinating. I love magical systems based on languages, and this one was no exception. And it reminded me a bit of Chronicles of Elantra series by Michelle Sagara (and this is a series that I love!). And it was interesting to see that we have different kinds of magic, not only because there are different branches, but because it really is different based on the “class” of the practitioner.
All in all, it was a compelling book, that kept me interested from the start to the end, with some good cons, and some interesting twists!
About the Author:
Alex Livingston grew up in various quiet New England towns before moving to Buffalo, NY to study English at Canisius College. He writes SFF prose and interactive fiction. Alex is married and lives in an old house with his brilliant wife and a pile of aged videogame systems.
And that’s all for today! Have you read something by this author? Are you interested in this book?? Let me know!!